John Smallwood: Well-traveled Greenberg leads Radford into NCAA Tournament

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Former 76ers GM Brad Greenberg now coaches Radford, which won the Big South Conference tournament and is heading to the NCAA Tournament. (Don Petersen / AP)

BRAD GREENBERG'S basketball resume is extensive.

It spans 3 decades and even includes a 1-year stint as the 76ers' general manager/vice president of basketball operations.

In fact, while Greenberg's stay in Philly was brief, he did make the most influential decision in recent Sixers history by choosing Allen Iverson with the No. 1 pick in the 1996 NBA draft.

It was a franchise-altering choice, for which Greenberg never gets the full credit he deserves.

Still, while Greenberg's basketball jobs have included everything from assistant coaching to scouting to broadcasting, the one thing he never served as, on any level, was head coach - until 2007, when Radford (Va.) University hired him.

Now in only his second season, Greenberg has a ticket to the biggest dance of all.

On Saturday, Radford beat Virginia Military Institute, 108-94, to win the Big South Conference Tournament and earn an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.

The Highlanders (21-11) are going dancing for only the second time in school history.

"It's a great feeling," said Greenberg, whose team finished 10-20 last season. "We took over a program that had been struggling.

"We improved some the first year and then took a quantum leap in Year 2. It's great for me personally, but it's even more rewarding to see the effect [making the NCAA Tournament] has had on the school, the students, the community and the kids on our team."

Greenberg has come full circle. It just took 30 years to complete the loop.

After finishing his playing career at American University in Washington, Greenberg became an assistant at American with an eye toward becoming a college head coach.

Things were moving along nicely when he moved to Saint Joseph's University in 1978 to work with Jim Lynam. Greenberg was on the staff of two NCAA teams at St. Joe's, including the one that made a run to the Elite Eight in 1981.

"At 30 years old, I was a viable Division I head-coaching candidate," said Greenberg, 53. "I had a few interviews."

But when Lynam took over the Clippers in 1983-84, Greenberg went with him to the NBA as an assistant.

"I thought being a NBA coach was what I should do," he said.

The road took another turn in 1989, when Greenberg joined the Portland Trail Blazers as player personnel director. He remained in Portland until 1995.

"You never know how things work out," Greenberg said. "Suddenly, I was in the management end."

Just as suddenly, after one season with the Sixers, he was out of the NBA.

"That hurt," Greenberg said. "It took me a few years to bounce back from what happened in Philly. I had to step back and figure out what I wanted to do.

"What I initially wanted to do was coach a college team. OK, how do I do that?"

Greenberg's brother, Seth, was the head coach at South Florida and hired him as director of basketball operations in 2001.

"Seth told me, 'You can get involved and see what it is like,' " Brad Greenberg said. "If you put some time in, you probably will have a chance at some point."

In 2003, when Seth moved to Virginia Tech, he brought Brad along as one of his assistants. Brad Greenberg spent four seasons in Blacksburg, Va., when the small Division I program from a neighboring town called.

"The school right around the block has an opening, and here I am," Brad Greenberg said. "I didn't have to move. My daughter was in high school here and my son was at Virginia Tech. [Radford's] a perfect fit for me."

Despite winning only 10 games in 2007-08, the Highlanders brought back enough talent to be ranked as one of the favorites in the Big South.

Greenberg loaded up the preconference schedule with games against the ACC's Virginia and Wake Forest, the Big East's West Virginia, the Atlantic 10's Duquesne, and George Mason, James Madison and William & Mary, of the Colonial Athletic Association.

Radford went 0-8 against Division I schools outside the Big South, but the Highlanders were getting prepared for conference play.

After ending 2008 with a 4-9 record, Radford won 14 of 16 after the first of the year, heading into the Big South Tournament, where the Highlanders beat High Point, UNC Asheville and VMI to earn the automatic NCAA bid.

"We knew our season was going to be defined by how we did in our conference," said Greenberg, who made the tough decisions to dismiss senior guard Martell McDuffy from the team for disciplinary issues and sit sixth man Chris McEachin for the first semester until he got his academics in order. "We weren't expected to be bad in the Big South. We knew we had the potential to win it.

"I made some personnel decisions that weren't easy, but I knew they were the right thing to do for the team. We stayed the course. The concept of team really took over, and we just got better and better." *

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